Year: 2008
Work product: Book

Thesis Manual

Context:

Our third year of graduate school was spent researching and then implementing a thesis project to act as a capstone to our architectural training. My research centered on the relationship between representation and reality in architectural production. To quote the architectural historian Robin Evans, “Architects typically produce drawings and other artifacts—words, inscriptions, models, full-scale mock-ups, and so on—that allow buildings to be realized by others, at a distance from their authors.”

The first half of the thesis project culminated in a “manual” to document my research to date and begin to plan how to realize the project. This was a different type of writing than I had done before, but it followed a familiar process: assembling source materials and quotes that felt foundational to the research; then writing in between the quotations, to explain them; and, in explaining them, bit by bit build a scaffold of ideas eventually strong enough to stand on its own.

Solution:

I designed, printed, and bound a my thesis book to represent this writing process. Each of the pages was French-folded, and the book's content (besides wayfinding like chapter titles) was printed on the inside of the pages (red ink for my writing, black ink for the quotations — similar to the practice I learned of annotating field surveys, drawn in black pen, with measurements in red).

I did this because I wanted the reader to understand that the work of the book came in the in-between, between research and synthesis, in the interior space of each folded page, where my ideas and the ideas that anchored my project intermingled.

Impact

This small book I made in graduate school might seem like a curious project to highlight; but it has been impactful for me, a metaphor for the relationship between thinking and writing, and the relationship between source materials (like data, for example) and how we work with them.